One of the many fun holiday celebrations of Easter has always been dyeing Easter eggs. You know, mixing the dye tablets with the vinegar and water, then placing the egg in the little holder and carefully dunking it into the dye. Dyed Easter eggs such as these have long been a part of celebrating the holiday in an artistic way. Dyeing eggs will always be a time-honored craft activity at Easter, but another up and coming hobby is taking the Easter egg art world by storm.
Believe it or not, fantastic, beautifully designed Easter eggs can be created by rubber stamping. You may think that eggs are too delicate to use as a surface for rubber stamping, but with a few stamps, a steady hand, and imagination, your Easter eggs will be works of miniature art that rank right up there with Fabergé masterpieces. You can use whatever type of egg you wish―regular chicken eggs from the grocery store work well, but larger eggs with stronger shells may work better, especially for children. Duck eggs in particular are sturdy and durable, but even tiny quail's eggs can work well for intricate images and designs.
For children, you may want to take a different approach and use artificial eggs made from plastic, polystyrene, papier mache, or clay. If the artificial eggs have a shiny surface or a water-resistant coating, you will probably have to change your technique, perhaps by stamping your designs onto transfer paper or sheets of adhesive paper in order to stick them to the surface of the egg.
For natural eggs, you should blow the eggs and let them dry first. To blow an egg, first wash it very well. Using a straight pin, a narrow knife blade, or another small pointed instrument, gently poke a tiny hole into each end of the eggshell. Carefully position the egg over a bowl with one hold pointing downward, then place your lips over the other hole and give it a firm blow. The egg liquid should slide right out the other hole into the bowl. Rinse the empty shell off and let it dry thoroughly before beginning to work with it. You may want to blow the eggs the day before beginning your stamping project, to be sure they are completely dry. Children may have a tough time working with blown eggs, so you may want to boil a few eggs so they can work with the hardboiled eggs instead. Either way, prepare a few more eggs than you think you will need, so you'll have plenty in case of an error or a not-too-steady hand.
You can dye the eggshells before stamping them, or you can use their natural color as the background for your stamped designs. You can use a commercial egg-dyeing kit, available from many stores around Easter time, or you can use cake coloring, coffee, or dyes for yarn. If you're using metallic paints or light-colored inks for your stamping, dye or paint your eggs darker to show off the stamped design more clearly. If your stamped design will use dark paints or inks, these will show up in better contrast on eggs with a paler or more natural-colored shell.
The best stamps to use for stamping eggs are stamps without a mounting because they are more flexible and bendable. Simply balance the back of the unmounted stamp surface on your fingertips and gently press the stamp side against the eggshell, letting the rubber form itself to the rounded contours of the shell. Smaller stamps work better than larger ones, because they are easier to bend and less likely to slip when you press them against the shell. You can press just a part of a larger stamp against the shell, making several impressions around the circumference, to create an intricate web design across the surface. This technique works well using outline stamps or geometric design stamps, where the end result will give the impression of embellished lace.
Quick-drying inks or inks from dyes may not sink into the eggshell surface quickly even though the egg surface is porous. If so, you may want to set the eggshells upright in a warm oven to hasten the drying. It is possible for you to blot or wipe ink residue off the eggshell a few hours after stamping, although the image may smudge slightly as a result. After the inks are completely dry, your finished design can be protected by painting or spraying the egg with a coat of clear varnish. Although this will make the shell a little more durable, it will still be fragile and should be handled with care.
Stamped eggs make gorgeous table decorations for Easter, and can even be used throughout the year in different ways. Craft stores have artificial or woven twig nests that can be used to hold your eggs, or they can be put in an assortment of vintage egg cups for a clever and classy decoration on your mantel. Or using a long, thin needle, you can slide your eggs onto fishing line or clear string and build an egg mobile. Sprinkle some essential oils or perfume onto thin strips of cloth or ribbon and carefully slip them inside the eggs for a bathroom decoration that is fragrant and beautiful.
With a dozen eggs, an assortment of stamps and inks, a steady hand, and a little imagination, you can create beautiful works of art for Easter or the entire yearlong!